ST. CLOUD, Minn. — It can typically be difficult for college athletes to get a lot of hands-on training for a career outside of sports because of the time commitment for games, practices and working out.
But while Nick Poehling is getting some work on the power play for the St. Cloud State men's hockey team this season, he is also getting some work experience in the field he wants to get into when his playing career is over.
"My long-term goal is to get into real estate — turning houses around — and property management," the senior forward from Lakeville said. "My dad does a lot of that down by the U (of Minnesota). We have three houses that the guys live in (in St. Cloud) and me and Jack manage those. That's how we're learning how to manage and getting our renter's license and learning about taxes."
Jack is Nick's twin brother and both are on schedule to graduate with finance degrees after spring semester.
This weekend, the twins will be looking to help St. Cloud State manage a strong finish to the first half of its season. The Huskies (2-4-0-0-0 NCHC, 4-6-4 overall) play Nebraska Omaha (1-4-1-0-0, 6-6-2) in a conference series at 7:37 p.m. Friday and 6:07 p.m. Saturday at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
The twins have played on the same line for most of this season. For those wondering, Nick currently has one more goal (four) and one more point (eight) than Jack through 14 games. In their careers, Jack has 24 goals and 48 points in 124 college games; Nick has 27 assists and 48 points in 123 college games.
Nick, though, said that the pair never compare hockey point totals. But they are not afraid to be vocal with one another on the bench.
"We definitely compete with each other and hold each other accountable," said Nick, who is an alternate captain with Jack. "Knowing each other our whole lives, we know we can push each other's boundaries and definitely be harder on each other than on other teammates. I think that helps both of us.
"We are definitely competitive, but more with other things away from the rink."
Being in the same major and classes, that competitiveness shows up, according to Nick.
"We always joke around about who is doing better on tests — we definitely get on each other about that," said Nick, who was an Academic All-NCHC selection as a freshman, but Jack has been Academic All-NCHC selection three times. "I've been winning that (academic) contest this year, so, hopefully, I can keep it going: knock on wood."
Special teams addition
On the ice, Jack and Nick are typically on the top penalty killing unit for the Huskies. Nick, though, has been a regular this season on the power play.
"It's been a little bit of a learning curve, but I've played on the power play before," said Nick, who has a goal and two assists on the power play. "But it's fun to get out there and get out in those situations."
St. Cloud State's top power-play unit lost all of its members to either graduation or early professional signing. While they are different from a production standpoint, Huskies coach Brett Larson said there is an element of Nick's game that is similar to former Husky Blake Lizotte, who signed with the Los Angeles Kings after last season.
"We were looking for a little bit of a Blake Lizotte mentality there," Larson said. "Blake was really good at winning puck battles to get the puck for you and we were looking for a lefty (shooter) and Nick does that. He's got the skill to make a play once he gets it. We needed a guy down low that can help us win pucks back and he's been doing a good job of that."
That's the nature of the line that Nick and Jack Poehling play on with junior center Kevin Fitzgerald. The line typically lines up against the top lines on opposing teams and it's main focus is to disrupt opponents with their tenacity and hard-nosed play.
"We do like wearing teams down," said Nick, who is second on the team in plus/minus (plus-3) to Jack (plus-5). "That's our role, to wear down the other team's top lines down. I think we get our offense by working teams down low and tiring out their defense and then capitalize on their mistakes when they're tired."
That happened in the second game of last weekend's series at Miami. The line combined for three goals and three assists in St. Cloud State's 5-3 win. But there were some non-statistics things that Larson pointed out that Nick provided to help the Huskies to that series sweep.
"I thought he set the tone by maybe some things you wouldn't notice — he won some tough wall battles to get the puck out of the (defensive) zone early and he made some nice plays on the (offensive) rush," Larson said of Nick, who had a career-best 17 points last season. "He blocked a shot to create a goal for his brother. He led by how he played. He was a complete, 200-foot player and was committed to the little things. When he's at his best, that's how he plays."
* Ryan Poehling, Jack and Nick's younger brother, was called back up to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. Ryan, a 20-year-old first-round draft pick in 2017, has five goals and 12 points and is a minus-2 in 26 games with Laval in the American Hockey League this season. He has played in five games with the Canadiens this season and does not have a goal or assist.
* Friday is Youth Night at the Brooks Center. Fans 18-and-younger get in free with a paid adult.
* On Saturday, the first 900 fans through the south atrium gates will receive a St. Cloud State Huskies hat. The giveaway is sponsored by UNRL.
* Between the first and second periods on Saturday, St. Cloud State will have its annual Teddy Bear toss. Fans can bring new or gently used stuffed animal toys to toss on the ice. The toys will be collected and donated to the area Toys for Tots campaign.